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Coronavirus Regulations: A State-By-State Week In Review

By Jeannie O'Sullivan · March 9, 2021, 7:03 PM EST

Vaccine rollout efforts over the past week focused on equitable distribution in underserved communities, prompting a new "equity metric" to guide California, an expansion of vaccinations in rural Florida and legislation to address pandemic-related learning loss in Illinois.

In other vaccination advancements, New York unveiled plans for 10 additional vaccination sites, Illinois launched a $10 million public awareness campaign to sway reluctant residents to get their shots, and New York and Massachusetts continued expanding immunization eligibility to more groups.

New Jersey commemorated the roughly one-year mark of the pandemic with a law cementing March 9 as "COVID-19 Heroes Day" to honor essential workers like medical personnel and law enforcement agents.

Here's a breakdown of some of the COVID-19-related state measures from the past week.

Click for state-by-state data on COVID-19 legislation and executive orders, powered by LexisNexis.

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday signed an executive order extending the moratorium on commercial space evictions of renters impacted by the pandemic through June 30. The order also extends protections against price-gouging for emergency supplies and medical supplies.

Also on Thursday, Newsom unveiled a vaccine equity metric crafted to better serve communities hardest hit by the coronavirus. The state has set aside 40% of vaccine doses for the hardest-hit communities, which is double the allocation for other communities, and will reserve appointments for members of communities severely impacted by the pandemic. The state also plans to increase funding for providers to cover the initiative.

On March 3, Newsom announced that the federal government approved the state's request to use funding from Medicaid, known as Medi-Cal in California, to provide voluntary coronavirus testing for low-income students covered by the program in furtherance of the goal for schools in underserved communities to reopen.

Delaware

Amid falling case totals, the Division of Public Health said Friday that the first confirmed Delaware case of the coronavirus variant initially detected in October in South Africa had been traced to a New Castle County resident in their 50s who traveled outside of the country.

Also on Friday, Gov. John Carney announced an expansion of the state's vaccination program for educators, school staff and child care workers. Poultry industry workers also became eligible for the vaccine on Friday.

Florida

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday unveiled a new pilot program to increase vaccines in the rural counties of Dixie, Highlands, Gilchrist, Glades, Levy and Putnam. The state is partnering with immunization provider Health Hero Florida to increase resources where needed and to help create vaccination sites at churches, community centers, housing developments and schools.

Illinois

Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday signed legislation that would advance equity in the education system in part by "addressing learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic." Among other measures, H.B. 2170 expands access to the early intervention programs and adds new graduation requirements to better prepare students in the subjects of computer literacy, foreign languages and laboratory science and increase the percentage of college grant funds for Black males.

Also on Monday, Pritzker announced a vaccine equity measure to allocate more state resources to Grundy and Rock Island counties to launch local fixed and mobile vaccination sites.

On Friday, Pritzker unveiled a $10 million public awareness campaign to encourage vaccinations in the state's hardest-hit communities.

Massachusetts

About $39.7 million in awards have been given to 1,026 businesses in the ninth round of pandemic relief grants administered by the Massachusetts Growth Capital Corporation, Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday. Through the program, the Baker administration has so far awarded over $602 million to 13,346 businesses.

On March 3, Baker announced that kindergarten-through-12th-grade education workers would be eligible for the vaccine starting March 11.

New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed a law designating March 9 of each year as COVID-19 Heroes Day in New Jersey. "From nurses and doctors to grocery store workers and law enforcement, countless essential workers have been working day and night to serve New Jerseyans during these trying times," Murphy said, calling it an honor to sign the bill.

On Monday, Murphy announced that a total of 15,000 households are receiving assistance from the state's COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Program. Households in the lottery-based program received six months of rental assistance paid directly to landlords. Murphy said he anticipates the state will receive $350 million more in federal funding for a new rental assistance program.

On March 3, Murphy authorized the extension of the utility shut-off moratorium through June 30.

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday extended vaccine eligibility to those 60 and older, effective Wednesday. Additionally, public employees and nonprofit and essential building service workers will be eligible for vaccination beginning March 17.

On Monday, Cuomo announced plans for 10 additional state-run vaccination sites in New York City, Long Island and in the Capital, Hudson Valley, Mohawk Valley, Southern Tier and Western New York regions.

Citing declining hospitalizations, Cuomo said Sunday that restaurants outside of New York City can move from a 50% capacity operation limit to a 75% limit starting March 19.

Continuing to address the fallout of Attorney General Letitia James' report indicating that coronavirus deaths of nursing home patients in the state were undercounted, Cuomo's special counsel Beth Garvey on Friday rebutted reports that the administration didn't disclose the fact that additional data existed about the casualties.

"To be clear, multiple times during the time the July 6 [Department of Health] report was being developed, public statements were made during the daily briefings and in the press regarding the existence of the data, but noting that the deaths were being counted in the facility where individuals died," Garvey statement read in part. "There were repeated public statements acknowledging the out of facility deaths were not being listed as a subset of nursing home deaths stemming from concerns related to potential for double counting and consistency and accuracy."

Also on Sunday, Cuomo said the Empire Pandemic Response Reimbursement Fund program, a privately funded initiative coordinated by the Office of Children and Family Services, has $29 million available to support essential workers and first responders through the pandemic.

Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf signed legislation March 3 permitting the Pennsylvania National Guard in partnership with the state Department of Health to develop plans for medical supply distributions sites, including for vaccines.

--Editing by Jill Coffey.




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